Sell Yourself

Because of the anonymous nature of the internet people are generally more skeptical when it comes to doing business online. Owing partly to famous internet scams sensationalized by the media and to bad personal experiences online, people are less likely to trust a party whom they've never met in person.

As an online marketer, you face the challenge of building trust and loyalty without the benefit of a physical handshake, a face-to-face meeting, or even a smile. To this end online forums can provide an excellent way to build meaningful relationships with people and attract new customers.

By joining a forum in your area of expertise, you gain access to a community that shares your interests as well as a pool of potential customers. There are countless forums dealing with just about any topic imaginable. The vast majority of forums do not charge you a fee to register or post messages. Many allow you to include with your posts self-promotional "signatures" that you can use to promote your business and link to your website.

A good way to locate a forum relevant to your line of business is to do a keyword search using one of the major search engines. Why a major search engine? A Google search for "website marketing forum," for example, will not only return dozens of relevant forums on website marketing, but will also give you an indication of how highly they are regarded by the search engine giant, as gauged by how high they rank for that key phrase. Forums that rank higher on the search engine result pages (SERPs) are the ones of which you'll want to become a member.

Forums allow you to share knowledge and gain reputation as an expert in your field. Offering concrete advices that are immediately useful to other people is an especially effective marketing technique. Once you've gained credibility in your field, you will be sought after for your professional expertise without your having to promote yourself.

Participating in forums is also an excellent way to humanize yourself and your business. When people deal with you, they'll know that they're dealing with a real person, not a nameless, faceless business entity. By staking your reputation online, you demonstrate that you are willing to accept some degree of accountability for your actions.

If you're a generally honest and agreeable person in the real life, there is no reason to hide behind a company name when conducting business online. The personal qualities that make you likable in the real world will also make you likable in cyberspace. Indeed, establishing meaningful relationships online is a lot like making friends in the real world. After all, on the other side of the terminal is a real person with real emotions just like you.

Another key to meaningful online relationships is to create an atmosphere of openness and transparency. Although you normally use a nickname to start and respond to posts in public forums, you should use your real name in private correspondences. It is good practice to begin your messages with a salutation, addressing them by their real name whenever possible. A little courtesy can go a long way in building loyalty and trust.

Apart from selling your personal qualities, you must have something of value to offer to people-- and at prices that are fair to everyone! On a venue where your personal reputation is not at stake, you can price a widget for any amount you want and hope someone will come along and buy it. When you do business on forums, however, you must be extra value-conscious when pricing your product or service. If you overprice your widget, you risk receiving flames from other members that could harm your reputation. This is why it's so important to research what other members are charging for a similar widget and to price yours competitively. Often you'll end up charging lower prices to members of your forum than to other customers with whom you have not developed as close a relationship for the same widget.

Building positive relationships is about making people feel important. Just as you want to feel good for having sold your product or service, people want to feel good for having bought it. This is why it is so important to promptly answer their questions and attend to their concerns. Listen to their inputs and incorporate their ideas into your business practices. This is how you make your customers a part of your team. It's not a stretch to speak of your customer as a member of your team. When you really think about it, no business can exist without its customers. Teamwork is not limited to interacting with other members of your company. It also takes teamwork to build a constructive, mutually beneficial relationship between you and your customers.

Affiliate Programme

Have you ever dreamed of putting your destiny into your own hands? Or have you imagined that you could earn commission on a brand-name or niche product just by placing a link on your website or in your email? If you have, you may want to try affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is essentially a website network. It is a modern variation of the practice of paying finders' fees for introducing new clients to a business. Nowadays, affiliate marketing is primarily conducted online as the number of people surfing the Internet for what they want is growing exponentially. It is a popular method of promoting web business in which an affiliate is rewarded for driving traffic (visitor, subscriber or customer) to merchants' websites through his efforts. Commission may be made depending on a certain value of registrant (pay per lead), sale (pay per sale), or any combination. Simply put, it's about paying people money for helping merchants sell products.

Let's say you created a website dedicated to promoting computer repair services/consultations and reaching out to potential customers. While your service is basically fixing PC problems, you notice that your clients also need registry cleaner utilities for the maintenance of their computers. In this case, affiliate marketing could involve contacting software developers selling registry fix or repair products, posting links to their sites on your website, and collecting a percentage of profit for each purchase those companies receive. In the long run, you can exchange links or sign contracts with the companies you are affiliated with. When someone browsing for computer maintenance or repair service on their websites clicks the link to your website and then decides to contact you for a consultation, the website that sends business your way will then receive commission

In fact, you are not required to have your own business as far as affiliate marketing is concerned. You can make a living selling any products without having to take orders or maintain your inventory.

How is this done? Build up a website to promote the products you are interested in. Make sure to include appealing articles about the products. After your website is established, contact online companies selling similar products and set up affiliate agreements. Those who hit your site and become regular visitors will inevitably be interested in ordering the products advertised on your site. Once an advertisement link is clicked by your site visitor and a purchase is made, you will receive commission.

If you don't have a website, you can still earn money through affiliate marketing by generating targeted traffic to the websites you're affiliated with. Google Adwords is the most important PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising system on the Internet. It allows you to directly advertise your affiliate links in the Google search engine results and on their partner networks.

The key to be successful in affiliate marketing is simply driving traffic to your site consistently. The more hits on your website, the more chances you have of gaining profit from purchases made through your links. Promoting your website through eZine and Banner advertising and providing free newsletters for subscribers would be promising ways to generate traffic to your website. Once your site consistently achieves a lower ranking in Alexa toolbar (which means your website is popular), other website owners or companies will be more likely to join forces with you in affiliate agreements.

10 Questions

1. Attend trade shows and seminars that are related
to your specific industry. Pass out business cards or
brochures about your business.

2. Swap articles with other e-zines publishers. You
could get your articles published more often if in
exchange you publish their articles.

3. Ask people to link to your site's content. Some
people may not want to link to your home page but
might want to link to your content.

4. Convert your web site into an ebook. You could
offer your ebook as a free bonus for your product
or another business' product.

5. Create ebooks for other web sites or businesses.
You could create them for no charge in exchange
for an ad or mention of your web site inside.

6. Team-up with eight to ten other sites to promote
the same web site. Just include everyone's products
on the web site you are all promoting.

7. Give free e-mail consultations to your customers.
When you e-mail them back your advice include a
small ad for a back end product your selling.

8. Encourage your customers or visitors to e-mail
you questions about your product or web site. Just
include your sig file with your reply.

9. Give out free web space on your server. Many
of your visitors may want to publish their own web
site. Just require that they publish your banner ad.

10. Design web sites for other businesses for free.
Just require them to publish your banner or text ad
somewhere on their home page.